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By Olivia Amourgis | Images by Nitro Circus Live

So you pump some impressive iron in the gym and smoke a notable amount of rubber at the lights – you’re a ‘tough man’, right? It depends who you’re talking to…

Freestyle motocross (FMX) pro Josh Sheehan is certainly not one to boast, but anyone who pulls countless flips on a 450 four-stroke bike in one day earns the right to be considered a tough man in my books. And that’s before he broke his neck and returned to the world circuit in the same year!

Now, I’m definitely not advising attempting to pull off a double back flip on the next motorbike you jump on. But there’s value in recognising the passion, hard work and courage it takes to have another crack following a bump in the road, particularly in the risky, adrenalin-pumping sport of FMX.

Early on in his career, Josh set the benchmark for his success, making history by becoming the first rider in the world to perform a ruler-flip on a 450 four-stroke. To this modest man, though, a 450 was what he knew, so changing bikes just to do a ruler-flip didn’t even cross his mind. To everyone else, it was one, giant feat.

The 28-year-old country boy from Donnybrook, WA, is evidently no stranger to the bike. Having grown up on his family’s orchard, Josh was on a motorbike as soon as his feet could reach the pegs, and while A-grade motocross kept his passion alive in his younger years, he was always drawn to the challenge of floating high above the dirt.

“Jumps always appealed to me,” Josh says. “I loved going fast and I loved getting high in the air. When MX started it was something new for me and I loved it but whenever there wasn’t a race on I would go and try to find some jumps and do some tricks. There was just something in me that always liked to jump.”

But as we all know, everything that goes up must come down, and sometimes the landing isn’t as smooth as that butter you lathered on your toast this morning. That moment suspended in the air when you realise the bike’s wheels aren’t going to hit the dirt like planned is heart-stopping, and it’s cringe-worthy to watch bike, body and all come crashing down. But that’s the risk FMX riders need to take to be successful, and to get to where he is today, Josh has had his fair share of crashes.

After several broken bones, ligament and nerve damage as well a few surgeries over the years, it would be understandable for doubt and fear to creep in, but only one crash in China in 2012 has ever made Josh question – briefly – his career in FMX.

“It took two months before I even felt half normal again in the head,” Josh says. “For weeks there I was borderline depressed, I was wondering what I should be doing. After a few months my head cleared and I had surgery on my shoulder and I knew there was nothing else to do but ride.”

So Josh continues to drag his right hand back full throttle, hurtling himself and his 110kg bike at top speed across sand, dirt and mud until he hits that jump and drifts free into the air. He throws in a trick – whether it’s a cliffhanger, double back flip or 360 – before gravity quickly brings him back to earth. FMX is certainly not for the timid, so how does this country boy from WA continually push the fear of injury aside and go on to achieve the remarkable stunts he does?

“You can’t really think about that when you’re doing it,” Josh says. “Some of the competitions I would have happily pulled out of if I’d known what was going to happen, but you just have to do your best to stay safe.

“Pain only ever lasts a bit. If you break a bone, you get bumped for a week or two and as soon as the recovery process starts you just get excited again about what you’re going to do or where you’re going to be.”

And Josh has every reason to be excited about his career on the bike. His pure passion and hard work began to pay off early in his career. Despite the setback of a few crashes, Josh continued to dust himself off and get back up again to compete. And when he came back, he didn’t return just as good as before, he returned better. With a few new tricks up his sleeve in 2008, Josh beat the likes of Kain Sual, Cam Sinclair and Levi Sherwood to take out the AFMX round during the Brisbane Super-X, stunning the crowd with his history-making 450 ruler-flip.

Following his huge win, Josh was invited to tour with the Crusty Demons. It’s a young bike-crazy boy’s dream to meet the Crusty Demons, let alone train and perform with them.  So when Josh was asked to join them, he couldn’t have been more pumped… until the day he was building a shed.

“It’s like your dream and then you get injured by doing something stupid like building a shed,” Josh says. “It sucked but it gave me a bit more drive in the end and motivated me. I knew it was a possibility in the end, so I just kept training and made sure it happened the next time.”

In no time, Josh was invited to another Crusty tour where he had the opportunity to show the world the raw talent he worked so hard to mould into international standard. With his undeniable gift, it wasn’t long before the world’s best had their eyes on Josh. Travis Pastrana – an international FMX superstar – was once Josh’s childhood idol; today Josh spends his days training and performing with Travis and his team on the Nitro Circus circuit. If you’d told Josh what his future held when he was a kid, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“He was like an idol as a kid,” Josh says. “He was good at basically everything and had a lot of fun with a lot of different stuff. It was exactly what I did and what I wanted to be. Being able to ride with him and his friends, the ones that I used to watch on TV, was such an honour. It was something I never thought would come true as a kid; it was awesome!”

So how does a typical country boy with a love for bikes go from riding on his family’s orchard for kicks to breaking world records, travelling the world each year to compete in the Red Bull X-Fighters, and performing with his childhood idols on the Crusty Demons and Nitro Circus tours? For Josh, it comes down to heartfelt passion, continually trying to better himself and self-driven, dedicated hard work.

“I’ve always tried to do the best I could,” Josh says. “When I wanted something, I tried harder and became better at it. Passion is one thing that has attributed to my success, but so is my upbringing. Dad helped push us in football, sport and athletics. He taught us a good foundation of hard work, so later on we learned to push ourselves.”

And push himself he does. Josh trains virtually every day, spending countless hours on the bike training with ramps and a foam pit. On top of that, he’ll throw in some daily cardio sessions based around how his body feels, whether it’s high intensity training, boxing, or a light run or cycle to loosen his muscles. Then comes the iron: 3-4 days a week of weight training. Josh’s arms need to be strong to manoeuvre the bike while in the air, his legs need to be sturdy to take the grunt of the impact, and his core needs to be solid to keep each move stable and in check. With this in mind, Josh focuses on building strength in these muscles and continuously tweaks his training to improve his weaknesses. For as the old saying goes, ‘you’re only as strong as your weakest link’, and a weak link in FMX could mean the difference between life and death. But that won’t stop the men (and women) out there who’ve discovered the love for FMX with the goal of becoming a champion. So what’s this champion’s advice for making that dream a reality?

“Start small and work your way into it,” Josh says. “You have to be persistent and just stick at it. If you love it, you just progress; just keep going, keep going and never give in. It might seem like it’s far away, but things are never as far away as they appear.”


“When I wanted something, I tried harder and became better at it. Passion is one thing that has attributed to my success…”



“Every day I try to do something,” Josh says. “If I’m riding a lot, that’s a workout in itself, and my body can get a bit sore, so I often just cycle in the morning or jog to warm up as well as loosen up. If I’m riding a lot I usually do a lot of endurance and recovery type training; I try to mix it up everyday and do something different.”

Gym: 3-4 days/week. “The legs take everything while riding,” Josh says, “but when I do tricks I have to throw the bike with my arms, so I focus on legs and arms at the gym as well as core strength, just to keep everything steady and in control.”

Cardio: Everyday (depending on how the body feels) – high intensity, boxing, running, rowing, cycling.

Motorbike:  Ramps – 2-3 hrs/day; foam pits – up to 4-5 hrs/day



“I was brought up on a healthy diet, and I’m sometimes a bit of a health freak,” Josh says. “I like my organics and like to stay nice and healthy and eat a lot of raw, fresh, natural foods. Fatty foods I’m not so worried about but I try to stay away from sugar.”

Breakfast – Smoothie (mixed fruit/frozen berries, chia seeds, soaked oats, banana and some plain protein powder if active) or porridge/oats.

Morning snack – A couple of slices of bread

Lunch – Salad wrap with a form of protein (chicken or ham) with lots of different veggies

Afternoon snack – Fruit (from his family’s orchard, of course!)

Dinner – Meat and lots of veggies



Red Bull X-Fighters Tour – Mexico 2014 – 2nd

FMX 2012 Awards winner – Best Australian FMX Rider 2012

Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour – Sydney, Australia 2012 – 3rd

Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour – Rome, Italy 2011 – 3rd

Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour – Sydney, Australia 2011 – 1st


Night of Jumps – Penza, Russia 2011 – 1st


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